We all go through trying times, where we can feel the darkness as Moses did: “Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:21) We are not alone–our Father is with us (John 16:32). If we remember that the ultimate victory has already been won, we can claim the peace of Christ in the most troubling times. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

There are times when certain habits or patterns become deeply ingrained. Our souls can be creased with worry, stained with envy, wadded into a hopeless mess of selfishness. Is it any wonder that Jesus allows some heat and pressure to touch our lives? “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.” (Malachi 3:2)

Much of the suffering we face comes from the natural results of our world: illness, crime, harsh weather–we don’t need to view these as God’s personal judgment. Whatever the source of the refining fire, Jesus can use it to shape us, to have a deeper compassion for others, and to bring Him glory.

Peter describes suffering this way: “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7) 

Like a crumpled blouse with deep creases, the heat and pressure applied by a refining hot iron the Lord allows in our lives will smooth some of the rough places in our lives so that we can praise, honor and bring glory to our Father who never leaves us alone–who walks with us in both the light and the darkness.

Oh, gracious Father, we know that nothing can come against us that hasn't first been brought before Your throne. Even while situations in our lives are breaking our hearts, we believe you have allowed the circumstances because You want to take us into the deep, dark, and secret places where Your most valuable treasures are hidden. As you lead us in the darkness, Lord, make us aware of your presence. Lord, don't let our suffering stop us from collecting every single treasure You have for us. Lord, thank You for bringing us to the place You want us to be. Amen.